Anything but Boring 2016

It has finally happened, I have had a moment to look forward to 2016.

You can see my 2015 review here.

What do I see moving into this year? I have no idea.

On one hand, I have SO much of my life planned for this year already, mostly out of necessity for work rather than actually being a planner. (I fake a J in the Myers Briggs quite well most of the time). On the other side, I really have no idea what to expect from 2016.

I am looking forward to the fact that I have an idea of the cadence of this year. For instance, I am now fully aware that my next real “slow season” will be next December (ha!), unlike the false “it slows down after…” that I was repeatedly told this last year!

But, I am excited and looking forward to a few things in 2016:
Getting to travel. – As in, I know currently I will get to travel to several states and countries this year. (More on that later)

Stoked.

No moving. – I won’t have to move this year, unlike the TWO moves I had to do last year!

Praise the Lord!

Bills bills bills – I will be able to pay off the remainder of my credit card debt this year. Meaning, I will have taken my credit card debt from more than $10k to $0 in two years.

Absolutely giddy.

Spiritual health – I have a plan for growing spiritually this year, and I am very much looking forward to it.

Deep peaceful breath.

Health – I have more health goals this year than I ever have. Mostly because I am aiming in a direction rather than my classic “get healthy” of previous years. 2015 completely changed my health, and I am excited to continue to work (hard) for even more of that this year.

#Hotbodywhoa #WhatifIwantpizzainstead #TotalHealth #Dedicationwillsuck #Gettinghealthycanbefuntoo

Community – One of my favorite things to do is gather community and create it wherever I go, I’m excited to do that even more this year.

Doing life with people is one of my favorite things.

Hair – We all know my hair will change a bunch, I love experimenting and using my hair as a conversation piece… It is truly amazing how much space unique hair creates for people to feel more comfortable around me, and I love that element of it all.

Red? Pink? Purple? Blue? Blonde? White? Black? Paramount?.. Maybe ūüėČ

Tattoo – Finally, I am finally ready to get my new tattoo, and I am stoked about it! There are probably a hundred different elements to the tattoo, so I am really excite to start the process of getting it.

So excited!

So, what do I think of 2016? I dunno, it will be full of a lot of things.
Beauty
Adventure
Change
Laughter
Stress
And so much unknown…

The one thing I know of 2016 is that it will be anything but boring.

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Follow along this year on Instagram @Kristapbback and #NeverDull2016

 

How Beautiful The Feet…

I have never liked my feet.

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When I was a younger child, I disliked them because they were crooked and I had to wear shoes to correct them.

As an older child, I disliked them because they were larger than that of my petite friends.

In high school, I disliked them because they were heavily calloused from the years barefoot I had spent on martial arts training mats.

My feet still are covered in functional callouses from walking around barefoot every chance I get (odd I know given this topic), calloused from high heels, from dance shoes, from a plethora of things.

It is an extremely select few people who I will allow to touch my feet without them being covered in socks first. I dislike people touching my bare feet (not to mention they are intensely ticklish).

Now that I am sans a vehicle of my own, I have walked more this summer than I have probably any other time in my life (except maybe a couple of summers at camp)… I average 10,000-20,000 steps¬†(5-10 miles roughly) a day.

I love the forced walking. I enjoy the space it has created in my daily life to think and process. It takes more planning to get around, but it seems to have slowed my life down just enough in this insane season. Walking has returned to me my much coveted processing time that driving used to afford me years ago.

Not long ago this partial verse popped into my head:

“‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!'” (Romans 10:15b)

When I thought of this, I looked down to my feet and contemplated if I considered my feet beautiful in this capacity. I was indeed walking significantly more as a part of my job… in an attempt to do my part to bring the good news of good things to those who have not heard.

But, did I think my feet were beautiful because of it?

I decided I did not see beauty in my feet, but instead I saw the glorious functionality of them and I was thankful.
Thankful that my tendons and ligaments have held up nicely, and they have not given out like they are prone to do.
Thankful that several years ago I bought the worlds most comfortable and durable flip-flops (Crocs) that have lasted me all summer.
Thankful that I live in a city that walking is an easily feasible option.

So, I found myself satisfied. I did not consider my feet beautiful even still, but they were as functional and actually, more useful than they have been in other seasons of my life.

Then, not long later, I began thinking about the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her hair. I was thinking about this because I have never had to wash my feet so frequently in my entire life!¬†(It is a fairly well-known fact that I dislike showering… I try to go multiple days without showering if at all possible.)

Yet, walking so much means incredibly dirty feet… which means washing my feet daily. Every. Single. Day. Dang. It!

However, let’s be clear, even still, I walk on paved sidewalks, brick covered sidewalks, and easily avoid the dirt and puddles… Not dirt roads.

How much more dirty were Jesus’ feet than my own?

Every evening, I wash my feet before I go to bed. I have found that as the summer has gone on, my feet are not just covered in dirt, but they are calloused differently, they are stained because of the color of the dirt… It is gross and I have had to take a foot stone to them frequently in order to remove all of the dirt.

How much more dirty were Jesus’ feet than my own?

This woman was so remorseful that she willingly and gladly cleaned Jesus’ feet with her tears and hair, and then poured what was about a year’s worth of perfume oil onto his feet.

How beautiful were His feet to this woman overcome with guilt and remorse?

And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee‚Äôs house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume,¬†and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume.” (Luke 7:37-38)

Then, on top of it all, she kissed Jesus’ feet. I do not think I have never understood the intense emotions she must have felt until I have experienced my own functional feet that never seem to get clean… And yet, all she wanted to do was clean them and kiss them in such an intimate way. So many feels.

And Jesus answered him, ‘Simon, I have something to say to you.’
And he replied, ‘Say it, Teacher.’
A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?’
Simon answered and said, ‘I suppose the one whom he forgave more.’
And He said to him, ‘You have judged correctly.’
¬†Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet.¬†You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume.¬†For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.’
Then He said to her, ‘Your sins have been forgiven.’
Those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say to themselves, ‘Who is this man who even forgives sins?’
And He said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.'” (Luke 7:40-50)

This woman is mentioned in Matthew, Mark, AND Luke. She left an impression on these men. Jesus saw her, understood her heart, and forgave her… releasing her of her guilt and remorse…

Go in peace.

How beautiful the feet…

Don’t Tell Me I’m Beautiful…

Some blog posts turn in my head for about 13 seconds before it spills out to be shared….

Other blog posts take months before I have words to share, and the bravery to back up what I allow others to see in me.

I was reminded this week of something our Pastor of Prayer says, “Fear is the opposite of love; not anger, but fear.”

It is always interesting when you discover a fear you have carried around for as long as you can remember, but never even noticed that it was there or that you were protecting it so severely.

What is my intensely guarded fear?: My Beauty.

I have been slowly processing with several very patient and diligent friends my thoughts about beauty… or more specifically my beauty. It has been a slow-moving journey to realizing the insecurities I have. But, probably more than that, it is an arduous task of recognizing the walls I have created to try to ensure my heart is not hurt or disappointed.

You see, I do not let people comment on my physical appearance. Meaning, regardless of the comment, good, bad, sweet, rude.. Whatever the comment, I disregard it and protect my heart from feeling or accepting the comment.

It was described to me that it is as though the comments are bouncing off my carefully crafted armor. I wanted to deny it, but the reality is, I am intensely and unrelentingly vigilant in the protection of that portion of my heart.

What I find particularly interesting is that, for as far back as I can remember, I have had this wall built around my heart regarding my physical attractiveness. More specifically, I have been disregarding compliments about my physical appearance my entire life (that I can remember) from everyone… As a young child, my mom and dad (who are amazing parents and people) would make comments to me about my beauty, and I would brush it aside with a laugh, eye roll, sigh or some sort of reasoning that they “had” to tell me these things.

I can point to a hundred different things that added to my reason to protect my heart in this area…

Most¬†of my life I have been (gladly) in the company of guys as their friend and have heard hundreds of times over about how pretty or beautiful my friends are… To which, I definitely agree(d), but I carefully avoided the awkwardness or disappointment of not being seen as beautiful as well.

I have always loved how the martial arts has helped create me to be capable of protecting myself and others. I love practical things so very much, and the martial arts is so practical to me. However, the martial arts certainly added to my already not dainty, but definitely athletic physique that I have only recently begun to appreciate… However, many of the words I have spent my life hearing from men are about how the dainty, tiny, skinny is where beautiful is held.. So, to be effective like I wanted to be, it meant setting aside beautiful things in place of better things.

Then, on the flip side, the times in which men have told me that I was beautiful, I felt like they wanted something from me or worse found out later they had been lying to me and could not be trusted to tell me truth.. or in a couple of instances I felt like the guy wanted to devour me, and I was not safe in their care… So, I protected myself and my heart diligently to avoid any additional damage.

Then, of course people use scripture to point out why beauty should not be something I cared about anyway…

I mean, after all: “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” – Proverbs 31:30 … And yet, here I am in the depths of my heart unwilling to admit that I still desire to be beautiful.¬†I do NOT want to be vain nor deceitful, so I rationalized that it was better to tuck it all away, and prevent others from speaking into it one way or another. I have spent my life not wanting to know if people thought I was beautiful, and sidestepping every chance I could to avoid knowing.

Throughout my life, I have reasoned that there is no possible way that I am as beautiful as some people have claimed. I rationalize their comments away as purely sentiment because my life circumstances simply do not line up with their nice, sweet or well-meaning comments.

I mean, after all: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” so their perspective does not really mean it is true anyway.

Then, to make an intensely personal and private struggle more complicated, I want to be seen in so many ways… I desire to be dynamic and unique. Full of life and adventure, leaving a trail of joy spilling out everywhere I go, seen as capable, intelligent, knowledgeable, loving, graceful, giving, welcoming, compassionate, and full of kindness.. And always reflecting Christ. I desire these things more than beauty, so I have spent my life focusing on these rather than the “vain beauty.”

But, if I am being totally honest, I want beautiful to be included in the list of things I am seen as too… Yet, even typing that, I feel it sounds vain and conceded. The struggle is very real in my heart.

I also know that sometimes your personality and character add to or detract from your attractiveness. I have long thought that I have the type of personality that makes me more attractive… but that it is sort of like a lens in which you see someone; the perspective is changed because of it, but the object itself has not changed.

Even as I process these thoughts and heart feels out with people, I often set up the rule that they too are not allowed to tell me how they see my physical appearance. It is safer to not know… But, I also do not want fake words, nor do I want reactionary comments.

To be clear, I do not want to be seen as more beautiful than someone else. I want to be my own stunningly beautiful woman that requires no one else to be less.

Because I am not yet beyond these struggles, I am once again going to ask you not to share your reactionary comments about how you see my physical appearance.

Please do not leave a comment out of a desire to make it better, that is not what this blog post is for.

Love of Traveling…

I love traveling.

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Seriously, short or far, driving, the train, or flying, I love traveling. Even the obnoxiousness of delays, weather, unforeseen obstacles, I love the unknown adventure that comes with traveling.

I think my love for traveling is why I miss Europe so terribly every day. Seriously, I think about my two-week trip to Europe every single day.

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I replay conversations had with one of my best friends…
Cable car of death

I remember amazing food… and some.. not so fabulous food.
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I laugh to myself about funny conversations, signs, experiences, reactions etc…

Falling Sign

I miss exploring, and walking until I have cankles, and getting to just play and experience something entirely new that I had no idea existed, or had on my bucket list to cross off.
Effiel Tower and UsPutting Ankles Up

I love seeing things that take my breath away.
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I miss having nothing to do but talk about anything that comes to mind whether serious, silly, ridiculous, precious, touching, memories, heartaches.. all of it.
Venice

I even miss the crazy adventures that were inadvertently created trying to lug everything around from city to amazing city.
Moving againLuggage and Train

Every single day I miss it.

But, mostly, right now I think I miss how my heart felt traipsing around Europe. I felt full, excited, loved, like God and I were connected, and as though my partner in crime understood me perfectly. For the very first time in my adult life, I had the chance to take a real vacation and just relax and let my mind not think about work or school for an extended period of time. I was able to just focus on the things in front of me, not the things I had to do tomorrow or checking things off my to-do list… I was able to use the time to process through hurts and bounce thoughts off of someone repeatedly as I worked through them over the course of the couple of weeks. I had the chance to look through my camera lens and be creative and see beauty.

Taking Pictures

Barcelona sunrise

Life just looks different when you purposefully look for beauty.
I want to do better at purposefully looking every daily.

Classic Paris

And, we laughed. All the time, every day.

I will often find my heart suddenly transported back to the feelings I had when I see pictures of (any of) my trips… Such as, I will once again find my heart full of thankfulness to God for allowing us to see the sunrise on a completely cloud covered morning.

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While I realize, that sometimes it may just be that it is easier to miss something purely because it was fun and great, and I am in full on hatred mode of winter right now… (since the snow pile in the driveway is taller than me…) But, in reality most of my sentiments are not really a new feeling, every single day since getting back, I have thought about my trip to Europe. I will find myself going about normal activities, and things I learned will bubble to the top of my mind to be mulled over again, conversations we had will replay in my head, people we talked to will spring to mind, and all of the time we were able to just be together and be friends; it was exactly perfect.

I think that the beauty I see in traveling, the experiences that follow me for the rest of my life, and all of the things that I find myself learning and going back to for such a long time add to my love of it all.

I could talk endlessly about all of the things I have learned and the ways that traveling has changed me, but it would be better conveyed over a cup of coffee in person.

Although, in reality, sometimes the learning takes place while you travel will show up in the form of just fun trivia… Like seeing a scene in a movie (Now You See Me) and knowing that the place does NOT actually look like it is depicted on the movie.. therefore it is a set.Lock.KiraLock.MeLock.Both

And, like the one time I was thumbing through a¬†“100 things you must see before you die” book and seven¬†of them I saw on my¬†trip ONE trip to Europe, and three others I had seen on other trips… (And, I even think that some of my pictures were better than in the book!)

I have now experienced two types of travels: Travels to help others, and travel for the sake of fun. Either one is great and honestly life changing in different ways, but both serve a wonderful and unique purpose. I love each type of trip.

All of these things, and so many more are what continue to grow my love of traveling, and why it will always hold a special place in my heart unlike anything else.

Charm and Beauty…

This month I am focusing my blog posts on Our Perspective of Ourselves. This may be one of my favorite topics because I love taking time to gain perspective on situations. I am constantly telling friends about things going on, then asking for their view on the story or situation I just told them. Wisdom from others is something I never take for granted, no matter how hard to hear and absorb it may be in the moment.

Lately, I have been thinking about a blog post I read not long ago, (and of course I cannot find it again to save my life, otherwise I would give her full credit for these thoughts!) and in it, she mentioned that far too much of her focus in terms of relationships with guys would fall under:
Charm is deceitful¬†and¬†beauty¬†is vain,¬†But¬†a woman who fears the¬†Lord, she shall be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30)

Ouch.

After I sat there for a moment and thought about it, I sadly need to confess that there in lies the majority of my insecurities. Charm and beauty.

I am surrounded by these amazing, charming, and beautiful in every way women.. Many of whom are wonderful (or best) friends of mine, and I often think, “I’m not even close to as beautiful as them…”

Then, I was surprised to read this: “…I have never been nor will I ever be the prettiest girl in the room…” Who wrote this? Jada Pinkett Smith on her Facebook account on May 15th. I was astounded that a woman who I actually think is incredibly beautiful had this perspective. But then, I was blown away because she went on to explain how she met a woman who was 80, and who’s kindness, laughter, and wisdom made the woman intoxicating. Her challenge and reason for the post was to encourage others to be intoxicating, and not focus on beauty. I realized, it is not a “Christian” thing to desire charm and beauty, but to then also realize how invaluable wisdom, kindness… and fearing the Lord is (for anyone, but in a woman especially).

Charm is deceitful¬†and¬†beauty¬†is vain,¬†But¬†a woman who fears the¬†Lord, she shall be praised.”

I wish I could say that my focus tends to stay on fearing the Lord, but more often than not, in the morning and throughout the day, my thoughts return to charm and beauty.

I am not a fan of this portion of me and my focus, nor do I intend on letting it remain this way.

My goal this month, and my prayers are for God to shift my heart. To move me each day further and further away from focusing on charm and beauty, and instead focusing more and more on fearing Him, and exploring what that actually means.

Charm is deceitful¬†and¬†beauty¬†is vain,¬†But¬†a woman who fears the¬†Lord, she shall be praised.”¬†(Proverbs 31:30)